If rumours are to be believed, then Daniel Ricciardo is eyeing up a seat at Mercedes when his Red Bull contract runs out at the end of 2018. He recently said that going up against Lewis Hamilton wouldn’t bother him, and that he’d actually be kind of excited to see how he fares against him.
Now Lewis has returned the favour, saying that he’d love to have Ricciardo as his teammate in the future. He told Motorsport.com:
“Daniel is a fantastic driver, it would be a privilege to race against him. He’s a great character, he always bring a lot of positivity within his team. I think it’s interesting, I think it’s cool, I take the compliment that people say they [want to race against me].
“I don’t truly necessarily believe that people want to be up alongside me because that is not always necessarily the best thing for an individual. But in some cases, it could be a really good thing because it can help you grow.
“You look at Daniel, he’s got a great driver in his teammate [Max Verstappen] and to be honest, he has got to really work to outperform him first. You’ve always got to beat the person you’re with first before you can look at competing against someone else and beating them.
Hamilton has been enjoying the friendlier atmosphere at Mercedes now that his teammate is someone he can easily beat, and he thinks that Ricciardo’s attitude would bring the same benefits. He doesn’t seem especially concerned about beating him performance wise either, as he says he’s already raced against the best driver on the grid.
“I already feel like I’ve raced against the best here, which in my personal opinion is Fernando. We have a great driver in Valtteri, who I’m enjoying racing with. There is a lot of great drivers here who I would be happy to race against.
“I don’t mind who I race against, anyone in the world, as long as there is some how you’re able to maintain positivity in the team and hopefully you’re still fighting another team as well. I think that harmony is incredibly important for everyone to be enjoying what they do.”
Ahh, good to see Hamilton continuing with the not-so-subtle digs at Rosberg there, even though he’s long gone from the sport.
This isn’t just a fantasy discussion though, as there’s a real chance Ricciardo could end up going to Mercedes in 2019. He’s unlikely to want to stick around as Verstappen’s teammate for another couple of years, and if Bottas continues to struggle next season then Mercedes may want to look for an alternative.
That could be Ricciardo, or it could be someone like Esteban Ocon. Either way, next year’s silly season is shaping up to be a bit tasty!